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FEC approves three advisory opinions, Audit Division Memorandum

April 26, 2018

WASHINGTON – The Federal Election Commission today approved three advisory opinions and an Audit Division Recommendation Memorandum.

Audit Division Recommendation Memorandum on McSally for CongressThe Commission approved five findings in an Audit Division Recommendation Memorandum covering campaign finance activity between January 1, 2013, and December 31, 2014. The approved findings relate to the misstatement of financial activity, disclosure of occupation/name of employer, receipt of contributions in excess of the limit, failure to file 48-Hour Notices, and failure to itemize contributions from political committees.

Advisory Opinion 2018-02 (Alabama Academy of Radiology and ALRAD PAC)The Commission approved an advisory opinion concluding that (1) the Academy is a membership organization for purposes of the Federal Election Campaign Act (the Act) and  Commission regulations, (2) ALRAD PAC may convert to a federal political committee, (3) the requestors’ proposed plan to divest impermissible funds from ALRAD PAC’s cash-on-hand balance before registration is permissible, and (4) the requestors may solicit the Academy’s members via the proposed payroll deduction plan.

Advisory Opinion 2018-03 (Committee to Elect Michael Gilmore) The Commission approved an advisory opinion concluding that the requestor may not use campaign funds to pay for certain legal expenses related to a lawsuit concerning the scheduling of a special election because such use would constitute an impermissible personal use of campaign funds. The Commission further concluded that the Committee would not be required to report the value of certain proposed volunteer services for the lawsuit as an in-kind contribution. During the discussion, the Commission heard from the requestor.

Advisory Opinion Request 2018-04 (Conservative Primary LLC). The Commission held over discussion of Advisory Opinion Request 2018-04.

Advisory Opinion 2018-05 (CaringCent, LLC). The Commission approved an advisory opinion in response to a request from CaringCent, LLC (CaringCent), which proposes to provide contribution-processing services to political committees through two platforms:  Round-Up, which allows contributors to round up transactions made on their credit or debit cards, and contribute the difference; and Micro-Pledge, which allows contributors to pledge small contributions each time a specified event happens, such as a certain hashtag being used on social media. The Commission concluded that CaringCent’s provision of these services would neither constitute a contribution from the requestor to a political committee nor cause the requestor to be subject to any registration or reporting requirements with the Commission. The Commission concluded, furthermore, that by providing these services, CaringCent would not be acting as a conduit or intermediary, and that the proposed services comply with the provisions of the Federal Act and Commission regulations concerning the forwarding of contributions to political committees. During the discussion, the Commission heard from Counsel for the requestor.

Internet Communication Disclaimers Illustrative Examples. The Commission discussed its efforts to create examples illustrating the application of the alternative proposed disclaimer rules on internet communications.

Directive 10, Section L: Special Rules When the Commission Has Fewer Than Four Members. The Commission discussed a memorandum from Chair Caroline C. Hunter, requesting a memorandum from the Office of General Counsel on the statutory and/or policy basis for the special rules applying to periods when the Commission does not have a quorum and expressing her desire to seek public comment.

Reporting guidance. The Commission heard a briefing by Debbie Chacona, Assistant Staff Director for the Reports Analysis Division, on additional campaign finance review procedures approved by the Commission on April 24. The Commission has authorized the agency’s campaign finance analysts, beginning with reports filed in July 2018, to examine the use of campaign funds by dormant committees as part of the review of disclosure reports in order to ensure that the activity meets the regulatory standards for permissible use. Committees of former candidates who did not campaign or hold office during the previous two-year cycle for U.S. House of Representatives candidates, or during the previous four years for U.S. Senate and presidential candidates, will be subject to this review. In case the Commission would like to clarify a dormant committee’s use of campaign funds, it will send a verification letter to seek additional information for the public record.

The Federal Election Commission (FEC) is an independent regulatory agency that administers and enforces federal campaign finance laws. The FEC has jurisdiction over the financing of campaigns for the U.S. House of Representatives, the U.S. Senate, the Presidency and the Vice Presidency. Established in 1975, the FEC is composed of six Commissioners who are nominated by the President and confirmed by the U.S. Senate.

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